Well I’m not sure how to bring this up but sex is everywhere. I think the leap in technology has the generation gap about as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon or the Mariana trench (bit of a geography lesson on the side). Problem is parents and young people get a bit awkward talking about sex anyway, so talking about pornography is probably right up there with topics likely to induce a heart attack. Realistically the statics say 90% of boys and 60% of girls have seen porn. Now back in the day like maybe 20 years ago, people had to buy magazines or hand over their ID to a video store. These days it’s the click of a button away and with cameras these days people are sharing more and more images, including themselves (I talked about this in my other blog).
Funny thing is no-one really talks about horniness or being ‘turned on’ by stuff. I don’t think people watch pornography for the plot, drama or suspense so let’s get real, sexual urges are normal for girls and guys and everyone else in between. But porn doesn’t always show what is realistic, kind of like driving cars and street racing isn’t like it is in The Fast And The Furious.
If you have mates that are into it and you think they are about to jump in and put the foot down without realising what they might really be getting into, send them to It’s Time We Talked. It’s got stuff for young people, parents and schools to think about.
There might be a bit of a generation gap happening with technology but some things like respect, trust and support are timeless. If you are not sure and need some help you can talk to netsafe anonymously.
Have you ever sent or posted a picture of someone (possibly yourself) and then wished you could jump in a time machine and go back and tell your past self ‘nooooooo don’t do it’. What about someone hacking your account and finding those ‘awkward’ pictures then threatening to post them? Maybe you haven’t personally experienced either of these but I talk with lots of young people who have found the digital world can be pretty unforgiving when it comes to personal stuff.
I don’t think I have any pictures of me at parties as a teen. I don’t think I could have focussed the camera all that well while dancing. My youth is secretly stashed away in a photo album at my parents house, lucky me. But a lot of young people have very personal, intimate and what many older people might consider ‘private’ pictures shared online. Up until recently the law said very little about what made for offensive harmful communication online. We have finally caught up and there is a new Harmful Digital Communications Act that has been passed. I’ve also been chatting to the police a bit about what they reckon are some of the important ways young people can keep safe in the digital world. Here is what I think are the key points.
• Once you send an image of yourself to anyone or post it anywhere online regardless of your expectation of being private you lose control of that image – it can go ANYWHERE
• Your facebook profile pictures are easy to ‘take’ and use elsewhere
• If you send any picture of someone under 16 and they are naked, partially clothed – ‘sexualised’ it might be considered sharing child pornography – regardless of ‘consent’
• Taking pictures of someone in public while technically not a crime – if those pictures are used without someone’s consent it might be considered a harmful communication
• There are places you can’t film or take pictures because people might reasonably expect privacy (bedroom, bathroom, changing rooms)
• There are 10 points that make a digital communication harmful – it must not:
a. disclose sensitive personal facts
b. be threatening, intimidating, or menacing
c. be grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the same position
d. be indecent or obscene
e. be used to harass
f. make a false allegation
g. contain things published in breach of confidence
h. incite or encourage anyone to send a message to someone to purposely cause harm
i. incite or encourage someone to commit suicide
j. put someone down (denigrate) for their colour, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability
I think it’s great that people’s right to dignity, respect and mana are being considered when it comes to our online lives. But having laws probably wont stop all harm, just like having drink drive or speed laws doesn’t make the road safe. If you do get stuck or are not sure what to do, talk to someone at school or contact netsafe. They can guide you as to what to do. If you know someone is feeling stressed or worried about any of the above support them to get help coz we can all make mistakes right? I really like this website ‘share this instead’ as it gives some great ways to respond if someone is putting the pressure on to send nudes. Check it out.
I like the grandparent test myself – if you wouldn’t want your grandma/kuia or grandpa/koro to see or read it then do not post it!
It’s an interesting thing ‘legal ages’. Society world wide is a bit inconsistent when it comes to young people and the ages of readiness to do things, but in general (at least from a New Zealand perspective) the idea is the law tries to offer protection and a lot of the time it works. We have some legal ages in NZ that are ‘loosely’ enforced such as the drinking age and age of consent for sex. By loose I mean it’s possible that some young people will enter into either of these activities before they reach the legal age or after – or even never at all. Voting is quite different. There is no sneaking around that one, its 18 through and through.
It got me wondering how those High School students of voting age this year make sense of the world of politics. It’s curious how bullying, back stabbing, name calling etc are frowned upon in schools yet seem to be almost essential qualities for politics, at least that’s how it appears to me. Figuring out which political party you might vote for is in many ways like dating. Political parties parade their policies to attract voters and if you are a first time voter they will be courting you ‘hard out’. But what about your parents? Do they have a preference of who you should be ‘with’? It’s a conundrum for many to the point where it might seem like an arranged marriage as though your party vote represents a form of faith, passed down generation to generation. It is a form of relationship and it can be hard to ‘come out’ as something other than what family or friends expect you to be. Dinner time conversations every three years could get incredibly tense at times I imagine in some households.
But it’s ok, because at the end of the day it’s just you behind the card board box wall and a pen. You and you alone cast that vote or not vote. Whatever you tell others will be a matter of politics, and we all know that what people say and do might not always be the same thing.